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Heritage veggie fundraiser is a healthy success

The mini gym at Heritage Elementary in Huntingdon was converted into a vegetable sorting facility on April 13, as over a metric tonne of vegetables was delivered to the community as part of a successful fundraiser organized by the school’s Parent Participation Organization (PPO).

A small team of volunteers, including parents and some extremely helpful students, filled 216 baskets with fresh produce and organic vegetables. The school principal, Collin Thomas, was visibly impressed by the event: “I really liked the idea that we could support our local community while helping people support a local business, and that it focused on good, wholesome, nutritious food,” he said.

Thomas admits that the school is not ruling out future fundraisers involving more conventional products. However, he suggests that matching the need for fundraising with innovative ideas that “support local,” all while benefitting the community in general, is “part of a paradigm shift that can benefit all of us, and our environment on top of it all.”

Organizers admit they were surprised by the popularity of the vegetable baskets. “I arrived at the school right as the pandemic hit, so I haven’t experienced what the community can support with regards to activities and events. This was a great project, and I would have to say a huge success,” says Thomas.

 

Members of the Viau family were on hand to help sort and bag vegetables as part of a fundraiser at Heritage Elementary in Huntingdon. PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Ian Ward, a market gardener who has provided vegetables for similar fundraisers in Montreal’s West Island, was pleased with the opportunity to help the local community school where his son is a student. “There are benefits on so many levels,” he says. “Parents will tell you that any time kids eat vegetables is a win. These are also local and organic, so you get the added health benefits, plus it brings agriculture into the classroom,” he explains, suggesting the fundraiser provided learning opportunities about nutrition, farming, and where food comes from.

Thomas was equally impressed with the school’s PPO and its dedication to the project, especially considering the group has been significantly reduced in numbers due to the pandemic. He says that while parent involvement is critical to children’s academic and social success, this engagement can also be extended to supporting school activities. For Thomas, this is key to “forming a vibrant school community of support and collaboration.”

The fact that there were fewer PPO volunteers did not stop the group from organizing the fundraiser, which was used to help pay for a sugar-shack-themed day at the school. Activities included a maple syrup demonstration, live farm animals, an Easter egg hunt, and of course, a traditional cabane-à-sucre lunch. “The feedback we received was that the kids had a fantastic day,” says the head of the PPO, Natalie Wattie. “That was the main goal.”

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